2001 volume 19(4) pages 461 – 483

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Chivallon C, 2001, "Religion as space for the expression of Caribbean identity in the United Kingdom" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 19(4) 461 – 483

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Religion as space for the expression of Caribbean identity in the United Kingdom

Christine Chivallon

Received 4 January 2000; in revised form 24 March 2000

Abstract. This paper puts forward the idea that the religious practices of the members of the Caribbean diaspora in the United Kingdom provide a space where an alternative vision of social issues evolves in response to the pressures experienced in British society. Based on the views of Lefebvre and De Certeau, I propose that the religious experience be seen as the appropriation of a symbolic place where identity is freed from the weight of social conventions. Contrary to the dual construction of identity imposed by the reality of segregated British cities, religious space allows for the conception of an intercultural sociality, an 'open identity', unhindered by the weight of the specific characteristics of particularisms of the different groups. This approach to the religious experience allows me to intervene in current intellectual debates. Geographically speaking, it is a question of showing how the idea of space is necessary in the formulation of identities, as well as the role played by space in the relationship between 'power and resistance'. More generally, it is an examination of the notion of diaspora, showing how, when coupled with the idea of hybridity, this intellectual discourse can be framed empirically.

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